Activision hires Queen Elizabeth II's former lawyer to lead appeal over Xbox merger

 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Activision-Blizzard has hired one of the UK's most prominent lawyers to assist in its appeal against the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Earlier today (via the FT), it was revealed that Baron David Pannick, KC had been hired by the company after its merger was blocked by the CMA last month. Pannick is known for his handling of extremely high-profile cases. In a career spanning more than 40 years, he has represented Manchester City FC, the UK government, and Queen Elizabeth II. Recently, he assisted former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the controversial 'partygate' probe that rocked UK politics.

While Activision has secured Baron Pannick's services, Microsoft has armed itself similarly, hiring another King's Counsel (KC) lawyer, Daniel Beard. In the wake of the CMA's decision, both companies made clear their intention to appeal, slamming the UK as a bad place to do business.

While Call of Duty was the focus of much of the investigation to determine whether the deal would be approved, the CMA eventually blocked the merger on grounds of Microsoft's strength in cloud gaming. However, Xbox head Phil Spencer has made it clear that Microsoft doesn't believe that the Authority's idea of cloud gaming even exists yet, so it's likely that those definitions could be an important part of the appeal process.

Multiple territories have already approved the deal, but major players including the European Union and the US' Federal Trade Commission are yet to deliver their verdicts. In recent weeks, Microsoft has been attempting to secure multiple cloud gaming deals to bolster its position, but it's possible that plan backfired, at least in the eyes of the CMA.

Still need a catch-up? Here's the Activision-Xbox deal explained.